June 6, 2018

Greetings to you, my SME Lancer classmate from 1968. Rusty Lee here, a Lancer forever!

I send this letter to you in order to encourage you to attend our Class of ’68 reunion. Would you please be willing to take this opportunity and read what I have to say? I count it a great privilege to share my story with you on how and why I changed my mind and decided to grasp hold of the opportunity and attend the reunion.

In our world today, driven by social media, it is easy to say, “Why bother!” “High school! That was fifty years ago. Who cares!” “I just can’t get excited about it! What would be my reason for going?”

Dear classmate, that is exactly where I was. I live in Wichita. It takes traveling. My wife Wendy and I have two adult disabled sons now living in group homes. We bring them home on weekends.

I received an email from my dear friend Ann Colston hoping that Wendy and I would attend because she wanted to reconnect with us and have the privilege of hearing our story; what was happening with our four sons and five grandchildren. I emailed her back the words above, “I just can’t get excited about it!”

Now let me share why Ann Colston is a dear friend and a special person. I first met Ann Fairhurst way back in our days together at Belinder Elementary School. But Greg Colston was my best friend at Indian Hills Junior High and at SME. After graduation we still kept in touch even though I went to Wichita State (Go Shockers!) and Greg went to KU. He was the Best Man at my wedding and I was his Best Man when he married Ann. Their son Kevin and my son Gary became friends even though my family lived in Wichita. About six years ago Ann lost her husband Greg to colon cancer and I lost my good friend. He didn’t even get the opportunity to walk his daughter Jessica down the aisle at her wedding.

The first word is “Mortality”. I believe it was Ben Franklin who said that the two enduring issues we face in life are “Death and Taxes.”

Ann, who has marvelously dealt with the mortality issues that confronted her six years ago, emailed me back and said that this would probably be the last big reunion and that there were reunion committee members working hard even though they were experiencing serious high level stress point issues in their own personal lives. My heart was deeply moved by this. Here was the committee not giving in to some “Let’s go the easy route and do it at some country club” but working to give me the best opportunity to remember the days at SME and to reconnect with classmate friends in the best venue possible.

The second word is “Opportunity”.

I personally began to pray for our committee and for our class. I decided that I could at least drive up to KC, attend a meeting and encourage these committee members who were working so hard for my benefit. So on May 31st I drove to KC and met Ann for dinner. We got to catch up with each other’s family story. Then we went to the reunion meeting. There were other committee members that I knew all the way back to Belinder Elementary School, some I knew from Indian Hills and SME and others I only knew from SME by face and name. Ann had told me that she not only wanted to reconnect with friends but to connect with other classmates that she didn’t know as well. She wanted the privilege of listening to their personal stories and to share hers with them in the hope that this would foster new and lasting friendships.

The third word is “Privilege”.

Ann said that she and other girls serving on the committee had become much closer friends.

(Someone please explain this to me! How is it that after fifty years these “Girls” look lovelier than ever, but guys like me just get old?)

As I sat in that meeting I could sense and hear the passion, the commitment, the caring of each committee member for each classmate on the list; wanting the very best reunion ever; striving for excellence at every opportunity. I was even given the privilege of sharing a little of my personal story with the committee. And I turned and handed my reunion payment check to Jere Hanney who was seated next to me. As we got ready to leave Ann said to me, “Maybe you could take this opportunity and share your story with other class members.”

As I drove back to Wichita that night my mind was challenged by Ann’s words and my heart was moved to draft this letter to be sent to you with the committee’s approval.

In closing: What high level stress point issues are you experiencing in your life right now? May the Lord bring them under control. May he give healing in every way possible so that you may take this opportunity and attend the reunion!

Could your stress points be financial? Is it possible for you if you don’t live in the KC area to get there for the reunion? The committee is working on a plan to provide financial aid, call it a scholarship, for any classmate who is financially stretched, to help cover the reunion cost. More from the committee about this possibility later.

Dear classmate, please take this last opportunity to gather together as the SME Class of ‘68! Please use this opportunity to reconnect with your classmate friends! And finally, please look me up at the reunion so that I may have the privilege of listening to your personal story.

Your classmate and friend, a Lancer forever!

Rusty Lee